At my tai chi class last week we worked on transitions from one stance (pose) to another. We decided that the transition to the stance was just as important as working on the stance itself, and that we should pay careful attention to the transition, instead of focusing on getting to the next stance. As usual, tai chi imitates life, so it got me thinking about how I have been in a transition ever since 2014 when I had brain surgery, followed by my husband’s death in 2015. I’ve been transitioning from healthy to a little bit disabled, and from married to single. So now I ask myself: Have I been so focused on where I will end up that I have neglected to experience the present moment? I keep thinking that I’m in transition, so it’s like I don’t take my life seriously, like I’m just passing through a stage. Why can’t I just be satisfied where I am now? Well, I really am satisfied, and very happy, but there’s also a part of me that wonders how it will feel when I have transitioned to…. what? My new intention is to enjoy where I’m at right now, and quit acting like it’s just a transition. And even if it is a transition, I intend to value it as much as I think I will value the destination. And really, my destination is unknown and mysterious, but where I am now is concrete and real. So it all goes back to the same theme: Live life in the present. In the now. Embrace it and love it. I can do that! As a matter of fact, I’m going dancing tomorrow night. And if someone asks me to take a risk, I’m not going to say, “I’m not ready.” I’ll say, “Bring it on!”
For the first year after my husband died I got lonely in the evenings. I was used to having him around and it felt empty without him to talk to about the events of the day. I finally got used to being alone and feel like I’ve adjusted well. However, today I finished all of my preparation work for next semester (I’m a nursing professor), and feelings of loneliness came up. It makes me wonder: Does keeping busy with my job distract me from taking a look at my feelings? Do I use my job to avoid feelings? I never really thought of that before, probably because I’ve been too busy! When I was at the bank today I felt the loneliness hit and decided to be mindful about it, like I teach my students. I said out loud, Huh! This is what loneliness feels like! I didn’t resist it, I observed it and felt it and experienced it. That helped a lot. And honestly, it’s not that bad. There’s a lot worse. But I do think I need to get out more. Is that because I want to avoid being lonely? Well, yeah.
I spent time in Atlanta last week, meeting my newest grandson Miles. Last time I was in Atlanta I got stranded at the airport for a few days, and this time my flight was delayed due to weather. While I was there it snowed a couple of inches so the schools and churches were shut down. We had a nice visit indoors. My son and his wife have decided to move back to Utah next year. HOORAY! I am so exited to have them close by. I was very impressed with their decision making. Although they really like Atlanta, they decided it would be in their family’s best interest to be closer to the support and love offered by family and long-time friends here in Utah. Families are here to love, support, and help each other. And friends are here for the same. I’m proud of my son and his wife for making a decision based on what is best for their family. Fortunately, it’s great for me too! Can’t wait to see them again.
The weather here in Utah is foggy and smoggy. The beautiful mountains are hidden in what we call “the inversion layer” of dirty air. The morning fog freezes on all the trees and everything is white. It looks like snow, but without the snow. Yesterday I was walking on campus (University of Utah, where I work) and saw that someone had scrawled a message in the frozen fog that covered a bench. My first reaction was, “Don’t read it! It will be crude or gross! Someone’s mad and they are using the weather to write their thoughts of protest and anger.” I got brave and took a hesitant glance at the bench. It said “Good Morning!” And it had happy face! What a nice surprise. Uplifting and inspiring. I laughed out loud and received the message loud and clear: Life is good and let’s enjoy it. I had a good morning, and a great day.Thanks!
I was planning a class about resilience and emotional intelligence last week when I ran across a quote online: Be interested, not interesting. Apparently, it’s a Dale Carnegie quote used in the customer service field. So all week long I have wanted to implement the quote, because I think it is natural for me to want to be interesting, so I forget to be interested. The truth is I really am interested in what people have to say, how things are going for them, and if I can help. So why do I not just shut up and listen? I think part of it is my personality – I like to be in the spotlight, I like to add to a discussion, I like to make people laugh. There’s nothing wrong with all that, but I can see that sometimes I just talk too much, trying to be interesting, which makes it hard for me to hear, truly hear, what others are saying. I need to slow down and just listen with interest and curiosity. I don’t have to solve things. I think I will make a poster with the quote and hang it around the house and around my office, to remind myself to listen and be interested. I also ran across another quote: To be interesting, be interested. So there it is – I can be interesting if I am interested. Sounds like a win-win.
I taught a mindfulness moment about curiosity last week. I could say a similar thing about curiosity: Be curious, not a curiosity! OK that’s not a perfect fit, but it sounds interesting!